Barry Trotz is ready to see if lineup changes can make a difference, and the Nashville Predators coach has no shortage of options.
Defenseman Victor Bartley became the third addition in as many days to the roster and likely will make his NHL debut Friday against Edmonton. The 25-year-old was recalled from Milwaukee on Wednesday after forwards Bobby Butler and Zach Boychuk were claimed off waivers Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
“There’s a good chance that all three of them will play,” Trotz said. “I don’t want to limit myself but I think that, obviously, it hasn’t been working in a lot of areas. So there’s a good chance that there will be probably all three of them in.
Bartley signed with Nashville as a free agent prior to last season after having spent a year in Sweden’s second division. In 54 games for the Admirals this season he had 26 points — tops among defensemen —and was named to the AHL All-Star Classic.
“It’s a chance for me to step up, show what I can do and hopefully bring some speed and skill to this lineup,” Bartley said. “… The biggest thing is skating — I think that’s my biggest asset, which allows me to improve and hopefully be able to stick here in the NHL.
“Nothing is guaranteed but it’s an opportunity. That’s all I’m looking for.”
The Predators are looking for a lot of things.
They have lost five of their last six — all in regulation — have scored just four power play goals in the last 13 games but have allowed two in each of the last four contests. One of the NHL’s top defensive teams through the first third of the season they have allowed four goals or more in four of the last five.
“I think we’re going to look at what we think we can use,” Trotz said. “If we’re going to put people in we have to put them in situations where they can succeed. We’re going to look at performance. It’s a little bit of everything, really.
“Some guys haven’t been going all year. Some guys need to go better. Some guys, positionally, we need to sort of stop-gap all the areas. If we want to fix the power play, someone’s probably going to have to come out of the power play. We need to balance some of that.”
For Bartley to make a difference, he simply needs to do many of the same things he has done since he came to the organization.
For Butler and Boychuk to do so, they need to be different than in previous NHL auditions. Both have been regarded as quality offensive prospects based on their production at lower levels, but each has been waived twice this season.
“Both of these guys are given a great opportunity to change enough to really have a good career,” Trotz said.
And maybe even get the Predators back to their winning ways.